Along with the trash (mostly paper and plastic), we always find a few treasures, tidbits and oddities.

Below are samples from the most recent litter pickups.

I have been cataloguing these finds since 2008. If you want to see even MORE of them, click here for another page of photos.

Want to see what's in a bag of trash? What's in the bags of recyclables?

CalTrans Adopt-A-Highway shut us down!

As most of you know, Sabine and I managed a crew of Adopt-A-Highway volunteers for 16+ years, cleaning a section of Highway 280 NB between Meridian and Saratoga.
After filling more than 5000 bags of trash, 514 bags of recycling, and finding almost $2500 in bills and coins, the CalTrans Adopt-A-Highway supervisor shut us down.
Long, long story you can read here if you want to. 

In April of 2021, we got a permit to clean a different section of highway in the San Jose area. It's not close to our home, so we won't be driving it regularly to keep an eye on it.
It is, however, wide and flat, a feature on which CalTrans and Adopt-A-Highway are insistent!

JUNE 2022

We thought this was a very strange name for a variety of canned sparkling water.   A check. It was written and cashed in 1995. Where had it been for the last 25+ years and what brought it onto Highway 101 in 2022?        What a cute paper plate! And in such good condition!

A good quality sleeping bag. There is a small tear you can see on the lower left, but otherwise it is in good condition. After sewing on a patch, we will donate it.   A hair band. The tag was not in good condition, but the band itself was. Washed and donated!   The packaging for Rhino II pills said to treat erectile dysfunction. It has the same ingredient as Viagra, but the FDA says it has some serious side effects (chest pain, severe headaches and prolong erections). And online user reviews give it only two stars. Hmmm.

Two sets of bank cards and IDs. I was able to track down the owners for the cards (God bless the internet) and mailed them back.   That's chicory. We didn't actually bag these pretty plants, but they are growing wild along Highway 101.   That's a plant called Red Valerian. Talk about drought tolerant! Plus, it evidently doesn't mind a steady diet of carbon monoxide.

MAY 2022

Nothing interesting to report other than someone dumped several hundred paper napkins and paper towels on the southern end of our section.
It was tedious picking them up because they stuck to the dried weeds and grass and tore when you picked at them. Sigh.

APRIL 2022

A cheese slicer.   A nice satiny cloth bag (about 5" by 6")        Two sponges. What was really interesting is that the one on the right, on the third line that you cannot read in this small photo, it says "Made in Denmark"  


A tiny toy penguin. So cute!  

It's hard to tell in the photo above on the left, but there were literally hundreds of tiny plastic condiment cups strewn over about a half-mile of this section of the freeway! The majority of them were torn, crushed, mangled, and caught in the grass and weeds.

The photo on the right shows what the cups looked like most of the time. We didn't pick up every one of them (it would have taken all day), but we gathered up handfuls of them when they were in clumps. What a mess!


MARCH 2022 - No pickup. The contractor got to our section before we did so there was nothing for us to clean.


A folding knife   Two masks. The top one is sized for a child        An unopened bottle of nail polish (my color too!)  
An unopened jar of peanut butter.   An unopened package of Backer Rods for closing gaps.   Two gift cards p


Some plastic plates...   ...with not-too-friendly writing on the back. Fortunately we were able to scrub them clean and will donate them.   A small glass pipe. It was used, but still had the price tag ($40) on it.  

We found a large black garbage bag full of weed. No, really! Seriously! At first I thought some gardening crew and just dumped some weeds they didn't want to take to the dump or a composting area. Then I noticed the leaves. Then I compared what I was seeing to an image I pulled up on my phone. Marijuana! Judging from the overall condition of the plants, they had been recently harvested. And on route to where? How did that bag get out on the freeway??



It's Emile! He was a loveable character in the the movie Ratatoille, so of course there was a little stuffed animal made in his honor.   This one hadn't been out on the road very long, certainly not through the recent rains, so he cleaned up nicely       A large totebag in great condition. We will add it to our collection  
A pretty-much destroyed metal measuring tape.   We thought it was just yellow tape until we took a closer look.   Some cute air fresheners, still in the packaging.  


We picked up an unusual quantity and type of Botts Dots. The top ones are the new style that are being placed on roadways leading to off-ramps with the red light FORWARD so that, if someone (drunk) is driving the wrong way, they will see bright red warning lights on the roadway.   A sealed package of dried fish. At least that's what I think it was... the label was in Japanese, so I can't be sure.   We find dozens of sponges every year. This one, despite being out of the plastic bag it comes in, was remarkably clean. We save them to give to a friend of ours who is a concrete contractor and uses them.  
The ones with the stripes are the same as the ones on the top row, but the red plastic is missing. The round one is an original Botts Dots, and it is very, VERY rare to find one that is whole and in such good shape. I looked at the roadway and it appears that the Dots like the top row had been recently installed in the two lanes closest to edge. You could see the black substance under and around them had been recently applied and stood out against the gray of the concrete roadway. There were usually TWO of the new red Dots side by side, but in a few cases, one was missing. Perhaps when they were being installed, one of them did not adhere properly and, when someone drove over the Dot just the right way, it skittered off onto the shoulder where we found it/ them.



I have been cataloguing these finds since 2008. If you want to see even MORE of them....

Photos from 2021
Photos from 2020
Photos from 2019
Photos from 2018
Photos from 2017
Photos from 2016
Photos from 2015
Photos from 2014
Photos from 2013
Photos from 2008-2012

For even MORE photos click here